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Top Ten Rules for Regifting

Some say it’s cheap, others say it’s frugal; some say it’s unforgivable and still others say it’s simply another form of recycling. But no matter what anyone says, regifting is here to stay! So here’s how to do it guilt-free-and how to not get caught.

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If you’re going to regift your presents, make sure to do it the right way.

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1. Give Good Stuff with Good Reason

The old adage “one man’s trash is another’s treasure” can ring true in the regifting arena, but some gifts are simply too hideous or too inappropriate to pass on. If you must regift, give something useful that you either don’t need, have more than one of, or simply deem neither your style nor taste. Don’t regift just to get rid of something. A perfect regift is one that you know the recipient will absolutely adore!

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2. Check Carefully for Tell-Tale Signs

Nothing says “regifted” louder than bits of old tape, wrapping paper, or a gift card hidden inside that’s addressed to you! Another dead regifting giveaway is obvious signs of use, like an errant dryer sheet tucked within a sleeve, or crumbs left in that supposedly new toaster. And always check a book for a tell-tale inscription inside! These mishaps happen most often when you are caught gift-less by surprise and need something fast.

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3. Forget Food

If you dust off the bottle and re-wrap them nicely, old bottles of wine, spirits, and even champagne can be acceptable regifts, but beware cream-based liqueurs as they can curdle with age. Avoid giving old chocolate, which can go a chalky tell-tale white or, worse, contain worms. The world’s most regifted food item is the fruitcake, but it’s better to use it as an offbeat doorstep than to pass it on. Artisanal oils in glass bottles, though lovely to look at, will eventually go rancid. And food inside old gift baskets can become dangerous if eaten past the due date. So the regifting rule of thumb here is: avoid foodstuffs!

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4. Never Assume the “Novelty” Wears Off

Novelty items can be hysterical or just plain tacky, depending on the recipient’s sense of humour. But the problem with trying to regift these “gems” is that, though the novelty may have worn off for you, the memory of the gift might not have. Especially in a family, impressions will linger for years. Who can forget the oinking ceramic pig cookie jar, the belching beer bottle opener, or the singing fish wall mount? So unless you’re sure the recipient has no ties whatsoever to the original gift-giving circle, don’t risk it!

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5. Avoid Handcrafted and Homemade Gifts

No matter how hideous that green-and-purple blanket your sister-in-law knitted for your newborn is, it was made with love. Regifting items made specifically for you will seriously cause hurt feelings if you are caught. One-of-a-kind gifts like paintings, ceramics, wooden crafts, frames, and mobiles, especially if made by children, should be treasured no matter how horrible.

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6. Beware the “Not-So-Secret” Santa

The annual office party can be a hotbed of regifting, but beware: Santa is supposed to be secret, but people still talk. If your Secret Santa has told everyone what a beautiful gift you are getting, and then sees it on someone else’s desk, things could get ugly. If you are going to regift office presents, do it with your family, and vice versa.

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7. Regift Age- and Gender-Appropriately

Chances are your great-grandfather won’t have a clue what to do with a high-tech gadget and your teenage niece will have no use for a nice scrapbook. And though there are exceptions, men typically do not enjoy receiving scented candles and soaps, while women do not generally get a big kick out of coffee mugs emblazoned with silly sayings.


Regifted toys, board games, video games, CDs, and DVDs-even when brand new-should also be age- and gender-appropriate. And avoid regifting toys with batteries included inside, as old batteries can leach harmful acid!

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8. Avoid Regifting Around Children

Regifting items with children present is a huge risk. They might rat you out publicly without realizing it, by saying something like, “Didn’t Dad give you one just like that last year?” It’s good to teach children that giving their gently-used toys to charity is a great thing to do this time of year, but you do not want to give them the impression that they can thoughtlessly wrap up any old thing as a present for family and friends.

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9. Keep Careful Track

Some well-organized and thoughtful regifters have a whole closet of nice presents ready year-round and boast an uncanny ability to remember from whom they originated. But the easiest way to avoid the embarrassment of giving something back to whoever gave it you is to snap a quick picture with your phone or digital camera and caption it with the person’s name. Then, you can simply jog your memory from your regifting photo file.

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10. Embrace Regifting!

The growing popularity of regifting is becoming apparent everywhere. eBay Canada now markets “National Re-gifting Week” as an annual event from December 26th-30th. There’s a new book entitled “The Art of Regifting”, and is a website devoted entirely to the practice. spokesperson Kim McGrigg says, “Whatever reason you choose, being a savvy regifter is key. When people say, ‘Really, you shouldn’t have…’ you don’t want them to actually mean it!” So, if you’re thoughtful and respectful towards the recipient’s needs, interests, and tastes, you can truly regift with class. There should be no shame in embracing regifting as a positive, economical, and planet-friendly practice.